Stumping on the Economy

18 09 2008

A little history and analysis from Dan Balz at the WaPo:

Only once since World War II has a political party maintained control of the presidency for three consecutive terms, which was from 1981-1993. Eisenhower’s eight years were followed by Kennedy’s and Johnson’s eight years, which were followed by Nixon’s and Ford’s eight years, which were followed by Carter’s four years.

Voters would not give Democrats a third term after the Clinton presidency, despite a robust economy and a nation at peace. After the tumult of Bush’s eight years, what might compel voters to reward the Republicans with a third consecutive term in control of the White House?

McCain has managed to make the best of this terrible environment. His pick of Sarah Palin proved enormously effective in the short term. His party appears newly energized, even enthusiastic about their ticket, even if they still distrust the leader of that ticket.

[snip]

How long can he sustain all this? Absent external events, he was doing well. With the economic news of this week, the polls hint at a deflation in his position. The playing field has once again tilted slightly toward Obama, who now must take advantage of it.

This of course begs the question as to why the race remains so close given the present climate. I of course will leave that to readers of this blog to figure out. But I do think that aside from Obama being a black guy with a funny name who is still largely unknown to huge swaths of the electorate and still manages to come off as inexperienced, it has a lot to do with the fact that the hope machine has never been as compelling candidate when stumping on the economy as much as he was campaigning as an anti-war advocate against Senator Clinton in the primary.

As Nate Silver at Fivethirtyeight.com observed yesterday, “Obama’s never going to be a Clintonesque natural out there on the stump in responding to the economy — he might have to repeat a message three times where with Clinton it would have sunken in the first one.” Of course, this does not entirely account for his lack of support among those in Kentucky or West Virginia, but it may help explain some skepticism on the part of some persuadable independents and crossover voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Nevada, and perhaps Ohio.

Of course, Obama is slowly morphing into a harder edged populist during these past few weeks, but he is going to have to work a lot harder to among certain segments of voting population.

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